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Nevada enters the 2009 season with much fanfare after a historic season in 2008 and a solid core of talent returning from that team ... The Wolf Pack returns 13 letterwinners from last year, including seven starting position players and one pitcher ... Of the returners, seven earned first- or second-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors in 2008 ... Topping the list of returnees is sophomore catcher Noelle Micka, a second-team NFCA All-American in 2008; junior pitcher Katie Holverson, a second-team NFCA All-West Region honoree in 2008; and senior outfielder Brittany Puzey, an honorable mention NFCA All-West Region selection in 2007 ... Nevada went 44-18 overall in 2008 and captured its first WAC regular season crown with a 16-2 record ... The Wolf Pack advanced to the NCAA Regionals, where it fell in the championship game at UCLA ... Nevada is led by first-year coach Matt Meuchel, who was an assistant here for four years (2003-06) before spending two years at Oklahoma State ... His staff includes fourth-year assistant Melanie Meuchel and first-year assistant coach Lisa Dodd ... A complete season outlook can be found later in this release.
ABOUT THIS TOURNAMENT
Nevada will play five games this weekend at the annual Kajikawa Classic, hosted by Arizona State in Tempe, Ariz. Nearly 20 teams from around the country will be in Arizona for the tournament, which is named after former Arizona State coach Bill Kajikawa.
The Wolf Pack will play twice on Friday, opening the 2009 season against Cal State Bakersfield at 10:30 a.m. (Pacific) and then playing nationally-ranked Northwestern at 3:30 p.m. On Saturday, Nevada will take on perennial powerhouse Arizona at 11:30 a.m. as the Wolf Pack goes for another win over the Wildcats after winning 1-0 last year at this tournament. The Pack’s afternoon game on Saturday will be against Wichita State at 5:30 p.m. On Sunday, Nevada will conclude play against Kansas at 9 a.m.
Nevada’s game against Arizona will take place on the ASU campus while the Pack’s other four games will take place at the Tempe Sports Complex.
SCOUTING CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD
Cal State Bakersfield returns five starting position players and three pitchers from 2008. The Roadrunners are coached by Kathy Welter, who is in her 24th year at the school and 30th year overall as a head coach. CSB went 22-25 in 2008 playing as an independent school and will play a similar schedule this year.
The Roadrunners are in their third year of a five-year transition period to full NCAA Division I membership. They will become a full NCAA Division I member in the 2010-11 academic year. Next season, they will be a member of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference.
This will be the first meeting between Nevada and Cal State Bakersfield.
Nevada and Northwestern will meet for the second time (the Wildcats won in 2005) on Friday at the Kajikawa Classic. Northwestern enters the 2009 campaign ranked No. 11 in the USA Softball poll and No. 9 in the NFCA poll.
Northwestern returns 15 letterwinners and nine starters from last year’s team that went 40-16 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals. That group includes All-American shortstop Tammy Williams and Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Lauren Delaney. Northwestern is coached by Kate Drohan, who is in her eighth year overall and at the school.
Arizona returns six starters and two pitchers from last year’s team that went 41-19 and advanced to the Women’s College World Series. Heading the list of returnees for the Wildcats are three first-team All-Pac-10 selections in Brittany Lastrapes, Laine Roth and Janae Lelas. Lastrapes and Roth were both third-team All-America selections in 2008 as well.
The Wildcats begin the 2009 season ranked seventh in both national polls. They are coached by Mike Candrea in his 25th year overall and at the school. The Wolf Pack and Wildcats have met six times and Arizona holds a 5-1 record in the series. Nevada’s lone victory came last year a 1-0 win at the Kajikawa Classic when Arizona was ranked No. 1 in the nation. That marked Nevada’s first-ever win over a top-ranked school in any sport.
SCOUTING WICHITA STATE
The Shockers return 11 letterwinners overall, including six starters and two pitchers, from last year’s team that went 33-28 overall. Wichita State went 13-13 and placed fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference in 2008. Coach Mike Perniciaro is in his seventh year overall and fifth year at Wichita State.
This will be the first meeting between Nevada and Wichita State
Kansas is receiving votes in the national polls to open the 2009 season as the Jayhawks return eight starters and 13 letterwinners this year. In 2008, Kansas went 37-19 overall but did not advance to postseason play. Leading the group of returners are the Jayhawks top hitters in Val Chapple and Dougie McCaulley and the top pitcher in Valerie George.
Kansas is coached by Tracy Bunge, who is in her 16th year overall and 13th year in Lawrence. Sunday’s game will mark the first meeting between the schools.